Creating a cosy hearth for a breakfast dining room in my Edwardian home

So if you’ve arrived here from my Dining Room Makeover blog then you’ll have already seen the BEFORE photos below of the orange brick and terracotta tiled hearth that we inherited in the dining room at the House of Mendes.

I wanted to cosy up that space by making it feel more like an old fashioned hearth. The chimney was bricked up and gone but I wanted to tell a story of inglenook bricks that had seen years of use in a fireside setting or been reclaimed. To do so, I mixed Saltwash with Annie Sloan Old White, into a soft paste, then applied across dusted clean bricks with an old credit card. I repeated that process randomly to give the impression of ‘blown’ bricks, leaving others untouched. Finally I gave several other bricks a quick lick with a wash of Annie Sloan Athenian Black to seem like they were scorched.

Saltwash and any white paint mixed to a paste to create the impression of blown bricks.

There’s no real substitute for just doing this by eye and what looks and feels right. For me, it looks more authentic if you work from a flat edge or a corner and slide across, like you would plastering or icing a cake. This takes away the modern feel and gives the bricks that preloved quality I prefer. Not only that, using paint and Saltwash is practical, as once it is dry, it stays fixed compared to working with old bricks which can continue to shed.

Transforming deep terracotta tiles with subtle colour and stencils from Dovetails

The next part of the process was to work on the orangey-red quarry tiles which had been placed in the hearth. They were well set and neat but I just didn’t like the colour for the restful roomscape I wanted to create. So firstly, I gave them a thorough clean then painted them with Annie Sloan Olive.

My vision was to create the impression of a Minton style tile, to echo original tiles we have elsewhere, so I asked my dear friends Sue and Perry at Dovetails Vintage to create me a traditional pattern to fit a 9″ square tile.

I then used Annie Sloan Versailles for the pattern, just moving it from tile to tile in the centre to create the repeat pattern. Finally, I used Annie Sloan Clear Lacquer not only seal the paints but because I wanted to create a slightly dimpled surface. Using a foam roller I got pull back which dries as texture so that I could then add dark wax for that sense of aging. (I wouldn’t recommend this for a functioning fireplace but here it is all cosmetic).

BEFORE: quick reminder of the original hearth with untouched bricks and quarry tiles!
AFTER: Aged bricks, painted quarry tiles and a wood burning stove with faux flames!

Finally I brought it all together with a second hand cast iron stove that was condemned from a local fire shop. I searched high and low and finally found a living flame electric fire online and was able to adapt it for the ambient glow. This is the sort of process you definitely need to use a professional electrician. I gave the stove a quick refinish with grate polish and styled with a bucket of kindling which I painted years ago with some letter stencils gifted to me by Dovetails Vintage which felt just right!

If you’d like to find out how to paint furniture like I do, you can join my Painted Love Academy at any time for free video tutorials and a whole heap more to buy if you want to take your painting to the next level.

So what do you guys think of the House of Mendes Fireplace Makeover? Please comment below, I’d love to hear any tips and hints from your own fireplace renovations or ingenious creative ways to rework an open fireplace.

Resources *:

Dovetails Vintage

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